Mark Go seeks Senate support declaring Sept. 3 holiday in Baguio to commemorate signing of WWII end in John Hay

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Baguio City Rep. Mark Go is hopeful his bill declaring Sept. 3 of each year as a special non-working holiday in Baguio City will be passed at the Senate and become a law before the date comes this year.

The House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 3721 in March, which declared Sept. 3 a holiday in Baguio to commemorate the Japanese forces’ formal declaration of surrender in World War 2 in the city on Sept. 3, 1945.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday, Go explained that the Japanese imperial army, led by Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, signed the formal surrender papers at the American High Commissioner’s residence in Camp John Hay in Baguio City on Sept. 3, 1945, marking the end of the war.

“Gen. Yamashita signed the formal surrender documents with US Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright and British Lt. Gen. Arthur Percival at Camp John Hay, formally ending the war,” the bill reads. “This event marked the end of the few but arduous years of war and occupation for the citizens of Baguio and of the whole country.”

Go said such piece of history must be accorded “the remembrance it deserves.”

“We celebrate as special occasions less victorious events in the country’s history and the successful ending of the war should be accorded the same significance,” the lawmaker said.

Go noted that many Filipinos are unaware that Baguio was where World War 2 in the Philippines began.

After the bombing of the Pearl Harbor, the first casualty of Japanese air raids in Luzon was Camp John Hay, together with Manila. At that time, the city was politically and economically strategic, frequently housing then-president Manuel L. Quezon and the American High Commissioner, who was then the US government’s direct envoy to the Philippines.

He said Baguio’s strategic military value was further enhanced by the locations of various army institutions, such as the small garrison in Camp John Hay, the Philippine Army’s Camp Henry T. Allen, and the Teachers’ Camp, which was then the temporary home of the Philippine Military Academy.

The Philippine Constabulary detachment at Camp Holmes, now known as Camp Dangwa, was where the regional office of the police was based.

During the Japanese occupation, Baguio also became a favored Japanese stronghold and there was an attempt to change the names of many places to either Japanese or Igorot.
Camp John Hay became Asahi Barracks; Brent Road became Balatok; Session Road was Mt. Data; Kennon Road was Benguet Road.

Go said when the US troops returned, Baguio was again targeted by the first air raid on Jan. 6, 1945. What followed was an almost daily carpet bombing, which nearly destroyed the entire Baguio City — the city hall, Session Road, and even the front of the Baguio Cathedral, where hundreds of civilians who had sought shelter were bombed and died.

Years after the first bomb fell on Camp John Hay, the war ended in Baguio on Sept. 3, a day after the actual surrender in Kiangan town in Ifugao on Sept. 2, 1945.

Just like Baguio, Kiangan and other parts of Ifugao province celebrate “Victory Day” every Sept. 2, commemorating the event at the Kiangan shrine and at the house where the actual surrender happened.

During the “Araw ng Kagitingan” celebration last April 9, Go also relayed the passage of the House bill before World War 2 veterans in Baguio. (PNA)

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